There have been many incarnations of Scooby-Doo over the years, but whether they were tackling dudes in monster masks or actual supernatural threats, one thing has remained fairly constant: the mystery. When Scooby-Doo Where Are You! first aired back in the 60s, kids were treated to the goofy shenanigans of a lovable dog and his loyal friends as they uncovered mystery after mystery, watching these teen crime solvers as they travelled the globe to expose a slew of nefarious schemes. But with this tenth incarnation of Scooby-Doo, the creators of this show completely abandoned that format — as well as most of the Scooby gang — and turned the series into a weak-ass version of Inspector Gadget.
Right off the hop, it’s clear that show developer and writer Ray DeLaurentis wanted to break with tradition when it came to the many versions of Scooby-Doo that had come before — ’cause why not? — the loose animation style is one of the more egregious examples of this, as it is just so ugly and unappealing. The designs of the characters were apparently an attempt to copy the look of the live-action movies — yet, for some reason, they cast none of those actors to provide the voices, nor does the animation style even remotely resemble their movie counterparts. This is a massive failure on the creative end, as not only is the visual style of the show terrible, but to me, it looks as if nobody involved cared to put even a modicum of effort into the show’s overall design and aesthetic. Then we have the fact that poor Fred (Frank Welker, Daphne (Grey Griffin), and Velma (Mindy Cohn) are relegated to just a few scant cameos, and for me, a show without the full gang just isn’t a proper Scooby-Doo series. Now, I know this isn’t the first time the Scooby gang has been broken up — back in the 80s, The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo had ditched Fred and Velma — but with Shaggy & Scooby-Doo Get a Clue!, the brief cameos of the rest of the gang actually hurt the show as there is no plausible reason for them not being involved. If the cowardly duo of Shaggy and Scooby were in trouble, why in the hell would they not be calling their friends for help?
And exactly what kind of trouble do Shaggy (Scott Menville) and Scooby-Doo (Frank Welker) find themselves in this time? Well, the premise for Shaggy & Scooby-Doo Get a Clue! is that Shaggy’s uncle Albert Shaggleford (Casey Kasem) has disappeared, leaving Shaggy as his sole heir and the inheritor of billions of dollars. Now, I’m not an inheritance lawyer, but I’m pretty sure “disappearing” doesn’t equal “dead,” so how Shaggy inherits anything is the true mystery here. Regardless of the legalities of Shaggy’s inheritance, the real reason behind all this is so that Shaggy and Scooby can take on their uncle’s nemesis Dr. Phineas Phibes (Jeff Bennett), an evil scientist and tech pirate who wants Shaggleford’s nano-tech formula so that he can become immortal and rule the world. He’s basically your boilerplate evil Bond villain, and even though the show’s writers named him after a Vincent Price character, he has more in common with the Peter Sellers’ character of Dr. Strangelove, right down to the goofy accent. The fact that every plot Phibes has is thwarted by a couple of idiots, and mostly by accident, makes this series a little too close to the formula of Inspector Gadget for my liking.
The show’s overall story arc involves Shaggy and Scooby getting messages from missing Uncle Shaggleford, detailing some plot of Phibes that needs thwarting, and then our two bumbling idiots whisk off to save the world. If this sounds a little out of character for Shaggy and Scooby, you are not alone in thinking so; I mean, these are the guys that were normally found hiding in the kitchen while the rest of the gang were out building monster traps, and nothing in the show’s two seasons even remotely makes sense.
To add insult to injury, the other “big” element to this run is that top-secret nano-tech formula had been mixed in with Scooby Snacks, which, when eaten, causes a variety of day-saving side effects on poor Scooby. So, whenever our two heroes are in danger, they’d have Scooby munch down on a random Scooby Snack so that its deus ex machina power could save the day. From invisibility to super speed, these brief abilities undercut the very essence of what makes Scooby-Doo such a lovable character and perfectly illustrate how much these writers completely failed to understand what would make a good Scooby-Doo cartoon.
Stray Observations and Questions:
• The show’s terrible theme song is a rip-off of “One Fine Day” by The Offspring.
• For some reason, Shaggy’s voice is pitched up several octaves for this series, as if actor Scott Menville had been given helium.
• Why would Shaggy’s uncle think his nephew and a dog could take on an evil organization?
• Uncle Shaggleford’s hidden laboratory looks like a complete lift from the cartoon Dexter’s Lab.
• Shaggy has the Mystery Machine upgraded into a miraculous transformer that can turn into anything, from a canoe to a giant robot, an idea that would later be explored in the much better Be Cool, Scooby-Doo!
• And why exactly does Shaggy have the Mystery Machine? Doesn’t it belong to Fred?
• Dr. Phineas Phibes flies a dirigible that seems based on the Hyperion from Disney’s Island at the Top of the World.
• Two of the key henchmen working for Dr. Phineas Phibes are pretty much a carbon copy of the Monarch’s two main henchmen from The Venture Bros.
As an animated adventure cartoon, Shaggy & Scooby-Doo Get a Clue! fails on almost every level, from its godawful animation style and half-assed voice acting to a story arc that even for a Scooby-Doo cartoon was pretty damn ridiculous. But worst of all, is that it’s not even bad in a fun way, it’s just too painful to enjoy. As a lover of all things Scooby-Doo, this is one series that felt more like a chore to plow through than anything else — this being my first encounter with the show, having not even heard about it during its initial run — and so I can wholeheartedly state that this show should be avoided at all costs.
You can find all my reviews of the various Scooby-Doo shows and movies collected here: The Wonderful World of Scooby-Doo.
Shaggy & Scooby-Doo Get a Clue! (2006-2008)
Show Rank - 3/10
Shaggy & Scooby-Doo Get a Clue! is not only the worst incarnation of Scooby-Doo it’s one of the worst animated shows I’ve ever seen, there seems to have been no effort on the show’s creators to bring even a modicum of love for the show’s history or its characters. Everyone involved with this show should be ashamed of themselves